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A small-scale air-cathode microbial fuel cell for on-line monitoring of water quality

Di Lorenzo, Mirella; Thomson, Alexander R.; Schneider, Kenneth; Cameron, Petra J.; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Mirella Di Lorenzo

Alexander R. Thomson

Kenneth Schneider

Petra J. Cameron

Yannis Ieropoulos
Professor in Bioenergy & Director of B-B


The heavy use of chemicals for agricultural, industrial and domestic purposes has increased the risk of freshwater contamination worldwide. Consequently, the demand for efficient new analytical tools for on-line and on-site water quality monitoring has become particularly urgent.In this study, a small-scale single chamber air-cathode microbial fuel cell (SCMFC), fabricated by rapid prototyping layer-by-layer 3D printing, was tested as a biosensor for continuous water quality monitoring.When acetate was fed as the rate-limiting substrate, the SCMFC acted as a sensor for chemical oxygen demand (COD) in water. The linear detection range was 3-164ppm, with a sensitivity of 0.05μAmM-1cm-2 with respect to the anode total surface area. The response time was as fast as 2.8min.At saturating acetate concentrations (COD>164 ppm), the miniature SCMFC could rapidly detect the presence of cadmium in water with high sensitivity (0.2μgl-1cm-2) and a lower detection limit of only 1μgl-1. The biosensor dynamic range was 1-25μgl-1. Within this range of concentrations, cadmium affected only temporarily the electroactive biofilm at the anode. When the SCMFCs were again fed with fresh wastewater and no pollutant, the initial steady-state current was recovered within 12min. © 2014 .


Di Lorenzo, M., Thomson, A. R., Schneider, K., Cameron, P. J., & Ieropoulos, I. (2014). A small-scale air-cathode microbial fuel cell for on-line monitoring of water quality. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 62, 182-188.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 24, 2014
Publication Date Dec 15, 2014
Journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics
Print ISSN 0956-5663
Electronic ISSN 1873-4235
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 62
Pages 182-188
Keywords microbial fuel cell, biosensor, water quality, BOD, cadmium
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